[cancer] The journey of a thousand lifetimes begins with a single stumble

I am reflecting that today is the four-week anniversary of hauling me to the Emergency Room. Since then I have spent nine days in the hospital, been diagnosed with cancer (three times, technically, though as a practical matter they were all the same thing), undergone major surgery, and spent two weeks at home being largely horizontal. Tomorrow I will begin returning to the Day Job, on a careful basis.

Even though I continue to be a tourist in the land of the slow, the land itself has moved along quite quickly. A real E-ticket ride.

We’re also cutting the painkillers in half today, to see if I can limit the dose even further. I’m not quite ready to cold turkey, but I’d like to taper off within the next week or so. No pain or side effects yet, except a possibly unrelated bout of light headedness.

As I said to in chat today, I decline to view this experience as a form of Enlightenment. Suffering does not convey wisdom. It does, however, convey perspective, which is a close cousin of wisdom. I’ll take it for my own and embrace it, but I am still me.

If you rate cancers (and their treatments) on a 100 point scale of pain, fear and mortality, where a 1 is having a spot cryo’ed off your face, and 100 is something truly awful like metastatic brain cancer, my adventures in cancer probably rate a 10.

Still, that 10 is my own brush with death. I could have died that first night from blood loss, had we been a little slower to go in to the ER. I would have died in another few years from a cancer no one ever would have suspected was there, if the tumor hadn’t ulcerated. My life was bought for me on a well-timed river of blood.

There are still hurdles. My providers have indicated there is a small chance my cancer is linked to a specific genetic condition. I will therefore be going through genetic counseling and probably some additional testing. This has long term implications for me and potentially for others in my family. More fears, and more Big Fears, to wrestle with before I can put this to bed.

I am thankful for the clean surgical path report and early staging, I am thankful that I do not require chemo or radiotherapy, I am thankful that I can see “normal” from where I sit today, I am thankful for the relief in the eyes of my parents, of , of and all my family and friends. Most of all I am thankful for my life.